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Editorial: Academic exchange between Japanese and Chinese universities helps the PLA

  • December 9, 2020
  • , Sankei , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

Forty-five public and private Japanese universities have an exchange agreement for students and scholars with seven Chinese universities involved in the People’s Liberation Army’s military technology research and development of defense equipment. Of the 45 universities, nine had conducted joint research [with a Chinese university] on topics such as nanotechnology (Hokkaido University) and nuclear science (Osaka University).


There is a danger of cutting-edge technology leaking and being used by the Chinese army to reinforce its military capabilities. The revocation of the exchange agreements is a pressing issue. The Japanese government and each university should investigate the state of joint research and international students.


China under Xi Jinping has implemented a strategy of Military-Civil Fusion in which civilian research outcomes and technologies are utilized for military use. The seven universities, including Beihang University (formerly Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics) and Northwestern Polytechnical University, are under the jurisdiction of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which oversees the defense industry.


Having an exchange agreement with these seven universities indicates that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and Japanese universities lack a sense of responsibility for the security of Japan and the world.


The reinforcement of the Chinese army through the transfer of Japanese cutting-edge technology may accelerate China’s actions to “alter the status quo by force” in the Senkaku Islands, South China Seas, and Taiwan. Such actions will place an undue burden on the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and the U.S. military, both of which provide deterrence against the Chinese army through technological superiority.


Academic exchange between universities of friendly nations is desirable. Caution is needed for academic exchange with China, a country that sends its official vessels to the waters around the Senkakus to claim the islands, and exerts military pressure on Taiwan and countries on the South China Sea littoral. China is a communist country. Its researchers and research institutions, even those other than the seven universities, are obligated to cooperate with the Chinese government and military.


The U.S. position towards China will most likely not change in the Biden administration. Japanese universities and research institutions should realize that in the 30 years since the end of the Cold War the security environment has undergone a great transformation. The U.S. government has designated four out of the seven universities as subject to export controls. Joint research involving Japanese universities may become subject to U.S. government sanctions.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said in a press conference that the Japanese government “encourages universities and companies to develop frameworks and measures to prevent leaks of confidential information and control security-related trade” from the perspective of preventing research outcomes to be adapted for weapons of mass destruction. This is not enough, however.


The National Security Strategy, approved by the Cabinet seven years ago, includes comprehensive export controls, but does not mention leaks of cutting-edge technology from universities and other organizations. We would like the government to create a framework that prevents the flow of cutting-edge technology to China.

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